From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
"Madder" redirects here. For other uses, see Madder (disambiguation).
Rubia tinctorum 002.JPG
Rubia tinctorum
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Gentianales
Family: Rubiaceae
Subfamily: Rubioideae
Tribe: Rubieae
Genus: Rubia
Type species
Rubia tinctorum

Rubia is a genus of flowering plants in the Rubiaceae family. It contains around 80 species of perennial scrambling or climbing herbs and subshrubs native to the Old World.[1] The genus and its best-known species are commonly known as madder, e.g. Rubia tinctorum (common madder), Rubia peregrina (wild madder), and Rubia cordifolia (Indian madder).[2]


Rubia was an economically important source of a red pigment in many regions of Asia, Europe and Africa. Several species, such as Rubia tinctorum in Europe, Rubia cordifolia in India, and, Rubia argyi in east Asia, were extensively cultivated from antiquity until the mid nineteenth century. The genus name Rubia derives from the Latin ruber meaning "red".

The plant's roots contain an organic compound called Alizarin, that gives its red colour to a textile dye known as Rose madder. It was also used as a colourant, especially for paint, that is referred to as Madder lake. The invention of a synthesized duplicate, an anthracene compound called alizarin, greatly reduced demand for the natural derivative.[3]



  1. ^ "Rubia in the World Checklist of Rubiaceae". Retrieved April 2014. 
  2. ^ Cannon J, Cannon M (2002). Dye Plants and Dyeing (2 ed.). A & C Black. pp. 76–80. ISBN 978-0-7136-6374-7. 
  3. ^ "Material Name: madder". material record. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. November 2007. Retrieved 2009-01-01. 

External links[edit]